The benefits of mindfulness - reducing stress and increasing happiness - have been well-documented and it's now a practice that many can't do without. But can it help us when we're thrown into one of the most stressful situations - going on holiday?
It's the activity we look forward to and dread in equal measure. Planning, packing and passport problems - travelling is rife with stressful obstacles, meaning your much-earned time off could leave you more frazzled than when you left.
Tiddy Rowan is a mindfulness practitioner for over 30 years and author of bestselling books including the Little Book Of Mindfulness and Colour Yourself Calm. Her latest book, The Little Book Of Mindful Travel, shows how adopting a mindful approach to travel can help us embrace and enjoy all aspects of the journey. From practical packing tips to advice on how to be 'in the moment', Rowan's book can help make your holiday that little bit easier. Read on for 5 handy hints on how to make the most of your trip...
How to pack
Whilst choosing holiday outfits can be fun, you should be mindful of how much and what type of luggage you're bringing. Rowan suggests a backpack as the best means to carry your things, especially if your travelling involves the outdoors. Wheelie suitcases are fine for airports, but are problematic on cobbled streets and uneven terrains.
Think ahead of your trip and visualise what you will want to wear, and don't be afraid of trying on outfits before packing to ensure they're necessary pieces that you'll enjoy wearing. Choose light cotton/linen for day outfits, and merino/cashmere for when there's a chill. And never underestimate the importance of comfortable footwear!
Where to go
Where before we used to pop to the local travel agent and have everything planned for us, nowadays we prefer to do it all ourselves. With all the offers on hotels, flights and excursions, we can plan our trips down to the letter. This amount of choice is both a blessing AND a curse, often rendering us stressed-out messes before we've even chosen our destination. Rowan says we should "savour the preparation - there is much pleasure to be had in the anticipation of the journey".
And whilst there's comfort in familiarity, avoid heading back to same destinations time and time again. "At least once a year go somewhere you have never travelled to before," Rowan writes, "either abroad or in your home country."
How to stay healthy
Despite your best efforts, an unexpected ailment can play a huge role in your stress levels. In particular, nasty bouts of travellers tummy can ruin an otherwise a fantastic trip. Do your digestive system a favour and avoid packaged, processed foods, alchohol and fizzy drinks that are all available in abudance at shops, fast food outlets and in-flight. Where possible, pick fresh foods, high protein snacks and drink water.
Being in the moment
One of the main principles of 'mindfulness' is basking in the present moment. This can be adopted in all aspects of travel, even when taking photos. Be selective when taking photos rather than falling into the habit of experiencing everything through a lens - it's no substitute for the experiencing the real thing.
The same can be said of guidebooks - although incredibly useful, relying too much on your guidebook can mean missing out on your own discoveries.
A journey offers a good opportunity to clear the mind - as well as physical packing, try 'mental' packing, filling your case only with essential information and immediate goals, and leave your excess emotional baggage at home.
Being aware of WHY you're travelling can help you make the most of your trip. Whether you're travelling to see the world, make new friends or taking time out, being mindful of your motivation allows for greater exploration of ourselves while we're in new environments. Keeping a journal can help with this, as well as providing you with a memento to remember your travels long after you've returned home.
The Little Book Of Mindful Travel by Tiddy Rowan, £5.99, is out February 11th.
The Starling is expected to be Netflix's next hit—here's everything you need to know about Melissa McCarthy’s tearjerker
The Starling release date is just days away as Melissa McCarthy stars in this tale of grief and healing
By Emma Shacklock •
Who left The Great British Bake Off tonight and who won star baker?
Who left The Great British Bake Off this week? Spoiler alert! Here's the details if you missed the first episode
By Caitlin Elliott •
Will we ever find a cure for Alzheimer's? Research points to new treatments for symptoms of the disease
The latest research into a cure for Alzheimer's provides a glimmer of hope for those with early stages of the disease
By Allie Anderson •
How to sleep better by making a few simple changes to your daily routine
Mastering how to sleep better can change your life—and these nine expert-approved tips will have you snoozing in no time
By Sarah Finley •
'Running is my therapy'—Katie Piper on mental health, half marathons and her rallying cry to non-running women everywhere
In an exclusive interview with woman&home, Katie Piper shares her inspiring journey from reluctant runner to half marathon finisher
By Emma Dooney •
Is your bad breath halitosis? How to recognize it and treat it yourself
We outline the causes, diagnosis, and treatment of halitosis—plus the signs your bad breath is a symptom of something serious
By Ciara McGinley •
Female sexual dysfunction affects around half of older women and many don't know it—are you one of them?
If you're experiencing female sexual dysfunction, you're not alone—our experts reveal the signs and how to deal with it
By Rachael Davies •
Why does my pee smell? Five possible causes of smelly urine
Wondering 'why does my pee smell'? Here are five common causes, according to an expert
By Ciara McGinley •
The best pillows for back pain offer comfort and support while you snooze
Reduce pain and discomfort with one of the best pillows for back pain
By Ciara McGinley •
Doctor calls for investigation into covid vaccines effect on the menstrual cycle
A medical expert has called for an investigation into the vaccine's effect on the menstrual cycle after 30,000 reported menstrual changes
By Laura Harman •